Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Lemonade Lessons

My Granddaddy Russell working his garden

My Granddaddy Russell working his garden

In past articles I have written about one of my favorite spring and summer hobbies – gardening.  I really enjoy going down to our farm in Rock Hill and working the ground that my dad, grandfather, great-grandfather and yes further generations toiled.  Perhaps the best thing about the garden is that the investment in labor always yields a bountiful harvest of fresh vegetables that keep my family and friends happy.

A couple of summers ago, I drove through the back roads to the farm and passed by a little lemonade stand by the side of the road.  A little girl sat at a folding table and chair with a hadnwritten sign that said, “Lemonade for Sale.”  There was also what appeared to be a glass pitcher and a few Dixie cups stacked up as she waited patiently for the thirsty customer who would certainly come along.lemonade

I drove past thinking I might stop by later for a cool drink after working in the hot July sun.  Later that afternoon, I jumped in dad’s truck and headed down the road to pick up some extra bags of fertilizer.  However, when I passed the stand, the lemonade was still there but the little girl had vanished.  I drove on, made my purchase at Farmers Exchange and returned passing by the vacant stand.  After spending a couple more hours tying up the tomatoes, I packed up and headed back to Huntersville.  This time, however, the little girl was perched back on her chair, head resting on her left hand, as she slumped down on the table.

I pulled my car over and walked to her stand.  She beamed a big smile as I asked her for a cup of lemonade.  To be honest, the lemonade was a bit warm as the afternoon sun had taken a toll on the ice.  However, after a long day in the garden, the beverage was tasty and hit the spot.  She charged me twenty-five cents. After downing the delectable treat, I asked if I could have a refill.  She indicated that would be another twenty-five cents.  She carefully poured another beverage in a new cup, handed me my drink, and held out her hand for payment.  I pulled out a $5 bill and her eyes widened and mouth dropped in awe.  The little girl timidly said, “Mister, I do not have enough change.”  I told her that was okay, she could keep it.  As I drove away, I watched in the rearview mirror as she dashed to her house.  She probably made more in one visit with me than she did all weekend.

The little girl was lucky to have that one “big sell”.  Her location was not ideal – located on a lonely country back road where you’re more likely to see a stray dog wander by before the occasional car.  I had missed her on the previous trips and she clearly wasn’t prepared for any large transactions. 

Recently, I was struck by how that transaction reminded me of some of the lake businesses who may have businesses in low traffic areas or may not have a solid business or marketing plan.  Surely this current recession has tested and perhaps weeded out those who were not financially grounded or prepared.

childChambers of Commerce provide businesses with opportunities to build relationships through our many networking opportunities and provide businesses with the tools they need for their toolbox.  Seminars are available in financial planning, sales training, marketing, and other personal and business skills.  Our Chamber also has a close collaboration with both SCORE (Senior Corp of Retired Executives) and the SBA (Small Business Administration) that can counsel and assist small business.

Unlike a lemonade stand, our lake businesses cannot afford to make critical errors in planning, financing, and marketing their business.  There is no doubt that the economy is turning and things are beginning to improve.  Our businesses are much more like the garden that takes constant attention. You do not just plant a seed – you have to constantly provide care.  Tilling, hoeing out the rows, fertilizing the ground, and supplying it with plenty of water.  The investment in the business, the time spent building new relationships and cultivating new ones will yield a bountiful harvest and a successful business.

July 24, 2009 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , | Leave a comment